Why do they do it?
They’re women who organize fundraising events to support causes of all sorts.
They contribute ideas and expertise at board meetings, and drop everything else when someone is in need.
And many do it all while juggling the responsibilities of family and work.
“Each one of us has a difference to make,” says Madhu Baker, explaining why she volunteers.
While still in her native India, Baker began freely giving time at the age of 12 to tutor underprivileged street children, helping them learn to read and write.
When she came to Canada, she became active in programs that help immigrant women who suffered abuse. Her motivation for volunteering, she says, comes from a simple idea.
“If each one of us does those little things that make a difference, together we’ll have a big impact.”
Volunteering is innately different from paid work because volunteers have nothing to lose, says Pam Chin.
“I listen to my heart more than my head and my heart says just try. What’s the worst that can happen?”
Chin has taken on numerous volunteer projects including the creation of the Canine Compassion Coalition to prevent animal abuse and stop the operation of puppy mills.
She also successfully lobbied Kijiji to change its policies on pet sales.
“Volunteering can be selfish, really,” she said. “There’s an overwhelming feeling that comes with success and the sense that you are able to do something about a problem.
“No one can ever take that away from you.”
Volunteerism needs to be instilled in children so it becomes part of their adult lives, says Erin Danby-Pollard, a mother of two and long-time board member for the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Women’s Interval Home.
“My mom volunteers a lot and has ‘volun-told’ me all my life,” Danby-Pollard said. “So now I bring my children with me to all my volunteer events. We make it a family thing.”
Baker, Chin and Danby-Pollard were among nine local women honoured for their volunteerism at the 12th annual International Women’s Day awards on March 6.
“We celebrate strong women in our community every year,” said organizer Georgette Parsons. “We do it because there are so many unsung heroes and women typically undervalue themselves.”
Also honoured were Tracy MacDonald, Deb Morris, Eve Morgan-Langille, Maureen Cannon, Victoria Diaconescu and Michelle Batty.
About 75 people attended The International Women’s Day celebration held at the St. Clair Corporate Centre.